This everyday dish can be adorned with summer’s bounty and upgraded with fresh pasta or kept simple with dried herbs and boxed spaghetti. Make it as mild or spicy as you'd like and pair with the herbs of your choosing. Blend smooth for a luxuriously creamy texture or leave it chunky for a more rustic and tomato-y bite.
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
2 Teaspoons Fennel Seed
1-2 Teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
3-4 oz (about 1 small) Onion, finely chopped
10 grams (about 5) Garlic Cloves, crushed
2 oz (about 1) Carrot, shredded or finely chopped
1/2 Cup Dry Red Wine or Vegetable Stock
1- 28 oz can (3 cups) crushed tomatoes, fresh or canned
1/2 Cup Vegetable Stock or Water
1 Pound Vegetables, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, & zucchini, sliced & diced as needed
2 Teaspoons Dried Basil and/or Oregano OR 1/2 - 1 oz Fresh Basil, sliced
3-6 Grams (1/2 - 1 teaspoon) Table Salt, to taste
1 Pound Pasta of choice, cooked per package directions
deviations & tips
Top with parmesan or romano cheese.
Try a banana pepper or 2 instead of the chili flakes. But be careful; they range from not hot to really hot!
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel seeds and toast until golden brown and aromatic. Add crushed red pepper flakes, onions, garlic, and carrots and saute for about 4-5 minutes until soft. (If you’re not going to puree your sauce, add the additional 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan now, add your vegetables, and saute until soft.)
Increase heat to medium high. Add wine, stock or water, tomatoes, and salt (to taste). When sauce starts to bubble, transfer to food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (If you want a chunky sauce, you can skip this step.) Set aside.
Using the same sauce pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of sauce over medium heat. Add vegetables and saute for 5 to 10 minutes or until soft. If you’re using veggies with a high water content, such as mushrooms or squash, cook over medium high until the liquid evaporates.
Pour blended tomato mixture back into pan. If you’re using dried herbs, blend them in now. Bring sauce to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary. If you’re using fresh basil, mix in and cook for just about a minute or until wilted.
Add about 1/2 of the sauce to the pasta and gently heat on low for 2-5 minutes or until the pasta starts to absorb the sauce. Serve pasta with a little extra sauce on top.